When I was in high school, my history teacher brought in several guest speakers from the community. One of those speakers was a World War II veteran who spent a year as a Nazi prisoner of war. His story stuck with me for years after he spoke to my class. I was able to interview him for an oral history project in college and maintained a friendship with him after that. Since becoming a teacher, he had spoken to groups of students on two different occasions before he passed. Because my teacher went above and beyond, I was able to learn as a student, build a relationship as a pre-service teacher, and create a memorable learning experience for my own students.
West Virginia teachers are extremely dedicated to their students, and we understand that building community is important to the job. Some of the best moments I have had professionally are through initiatives like AP Summer Institutes and National Board cadres or through organizations like the West Virginia Council for the Social Studies. The teachers I’ve encountered here are among the best of the best and are always willing to share their knowledge and resources.
I wanted a meaningful career that served individuals and the community. I have always thought that social studies was a subject that could challenge students both intellectually and emotionally.
My favorite aspect of teaching social studies is when I get to go beyond the textbook by inserting things like local history or by bringing in community experts. The subject provides opportunities for students to debate and discuss important matters in a safe environment, too. I often use role playing activities to create memorable learning experiences for a number of historical periods. Students will often write roasts or toasts to Napoleon Bonaparte at a mock funeral or debate Wilson’s Fourteen Points as one of the Big Four nations at a Treaty of Versailles simulation. Watching students have that “aha!” moment never gets old!
I am a native of Parkersburg, graduated from West Virginia University, and have spent the entirety of my career at Capital High School where I have taught social studies and Spanish classes. I’ve been married to my wife, Lauren, for eight years and we have a son, Carter (2), and a daughter, Morgan (newborn).